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Writing Assignment Instructions for The American People II

The assignment consists of an analysis of one of four historical documents: 1) Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points and the League of Nations debate, pp.343-353,64-67.412-429, 590-605: 2) Russel Conwell's speech Acres of Diamonds, pp. 19-63; 3) Stephen Crane's novel, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, pp. 39-103; and 4) W.E.B. DuBois and Charlotte Forten,  Educating the Freedmen, pp. 252-261, 129-37. The objective of the assignment is to demonstrate an analytical understanding of the document, the people who wrote and read them, and their society .

A thorough reading of all four should narrow your interests to one document.  I recommend reading that one several times accompanied by underlining or note taking on the most significant points.  Having done that, ask yourself a series of questions about the document:  how does it show the personality, the assumptions, and the values or biases of the author?  Is there an attempt to persuade the reader and, if so, what means or tools are used to accomplish that?  Consider the arguments and the evidence marshaled in their behalf.  Are the arguments persuasive or can you find holes in the logic of the nature of the evidence?  What is the author attempting to accomplish in writing: i.e. what is his/her purpose?  Does the evidence and logic show a pattern of thinking fundamentally different from a current day perspective, or are the two points of view (then and now) similar?  Do not treat the documents as something to be affirmed or denied, accurate or false, good or evil.  Treat them as reflections of a way of thinking and of an age which you are attempting to comprehend on its own terms.  These questions are suggested merely to get your thinking process started; they are not to be construed as a literal outline.  Above all, do not write a summary, and by that I mean simple paraphrasing of the author's main points.  A summary is no substitute for your own thinking.  You must consult at least two sources from the list of library reference sources (or others of your choice) and footnote them in your paper, the style of footnoting or end noting of your own choice.  But remember, this is an analysis paper, not a research paper or a biographical sketch, so the sources may help you comprehend the author or times but cannot substitute for your own thinking. When in doubt, return to the text.  Feel free to use Internet sources, but there's a lot of junk out there.  Be prepared to verify WWW sources.

You have the option of handing in a first draft by no later than 4p.m. on Friday, March 9.  If you decide to do a first draft, you will have it returned with a tentative grade and suggestions for improving the manuscript.  You have a week from the time the paper is returned to make whatever changes you wish and then resubmit the paper (with first draft attached): if you are happy with the tentative grade, your assignment is complete.  There is absolutely no room for late papers on first drafts; a late first draft equals an early final draft. There is also absolutely no room for cheating or plagiarizing. My tolerance level is reaching zero on this point.

For students who choose not to write a first draft, the regular due date is  no later than 4 p.m. on Friday, March 30. All drafts must be typed(or wordprocessed with 10-12 point type), roughly five pages in length (about 1200 words) double-spaced, and with reasonable margins(an inch to 1 2 inches).  I feel free to penalize work that does not meet specifications, i.e. length, sources, originality, instructions  Make sure you keep a copy on disc or paper so nothing ever comes up "missing." 

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